Thoughts on Tech

VMware Cloud on GCP, now they have the big three

Anyone who follows my blogs know I’m quite a fan of VMware Cloud on AWS and my employer Stagecoach have been a happy customer for almost 2 years now. During that time VMware have strengthened their relationship with AWS, struck a deal with Microsoft for VMC to run on Azure and now as of this week they have announced Google Cloud VMware Engine, the same tech stack on the final of the big three’s cloud platform. So what does this mean for the customer?

VMware Cloud on AWS was announced back in 2017 and from a customer perspective has taken some time to get a real following. As time has gone on though, there has been some great feature releases which has resulted in some rather good customer use cases. At recent meets I’ve met likeminded adopters such as William Hill who are leveraging VMware Cloud on AWS to enable their move to the cloud at pace, and although their use case is different to Stagecoach’s, we all benefit from the same innovation.

I needed something to break up this wall of text, so here’s a VMware logo

One of the key benefits of us moving to VMware Cloud on AWS was that we weren’t locked into a single cloud provider’s ecosystem, so if something vastly changed elsewhere, we had the flexibility to move onto another cloud provider which suited the direction of technology and the business at the time. For us, right now – AWS is exactly where we want to be as far as cloud providers are concerned, but the recent announcement made me think about this as if I was a business who hadn’t yet moved to the cloud.

If you’re a business who have a big on-premise vSphere estate, or you’re heavy users of Kubernetes then what does this announcement mean for you? Let me give you my two pence. I know, you’ve bothered to read this far – you’re committed to hearing my rants 😉

P.S. If you’re already a VMC user, skip to the end

Step 1: Can I run native, or do a need a software virtualisation layer?

So you don’t want to have to retrain your staff, or you’re more than happy with the functionality that vSphere provides, or you have workloads that don’t lend themselves to that ‘per hour’ billing, for example VMs that need to be on 24/7? Then for me, those point at sticking with a software virtualisation overlay, in this case vSphere.

Step 2: Hardware

On Prem

If you’re running on premise, you will know it isn’t that simple. You need to provide hardware: compute, storage, networking. Do you have the same expertise in this? Do your team spend a lot of time feeding and watering this equipment? i.e. firmware upgrades, disk replacement, provisioning storage, or dealing with failed servers. How often do you refresh this equipment?

I googled ‘server fire’ and this was hit #3.

Hosted

Alternatively, do you pay for a third party to support this for you? Do you host it in datacenters who charge for kw/h, bandwidth, remote hands? Do they respond adaquately if something goes wrong? Do you lease equipment?

What does this cost your business both in a financial sense, but also in time of your techies? Are your experienced techies spending time performing mundane tasks when they could be innovating and coming up with new solutions?

Step 3: Cloud Benefits

So if you’ve done the above and decided that Public Cloud makes sense to you, then your next question is going to be – which cloud? Back when we chose VMware Cloud on AWS, is was an easy decision for a few reasons:

  • We used AWS internally already as a business
  • We regarded, and still do, regard AWS as the most mature and most agile cloud provider

It made our decision quite easy, and we’ve been using some native services already and have more in the pipeline, but for someone starting this journey there are far more options

Step 4: Cloud Provider

VMware Cloud on AWS

Azure VMware Solution

IBM Cloud for VMware Solutions

and now Google Cloud VMware Engine

(I’ve left out the non-cloud options such as Outposts, and Dell EMC)

Now, there are a lot of options, all with different naming structure (so confusing!) but essentially they all offer a similar platform, which is vSphere, NSX, vSAN. Essentially, your compute, storage and networking – everything you need to get going. The difference is the underlying provider.

The questions you need to be asking here is what is most important to YOUR business. Each vendor will happily sell you their ‘big benefits’ over its competitors, whether that be price, connectivity, bandwidth, auxilarily services. If I take a look at the big three, AWS, Azure & Google there are distinct differences between them.

AWS have a plethora of services, and leans itself well to developers – functions such as Lambda or Redshift, or more funky services such as Lex (for bots) or Polly (text-to-speech). Remember Amazon’s key competenancy is retail, thats where their strength.

Azure makes sense if you’re a Windows house for services such as SQL – its just cheaper. They are definately a serious player and should be considered especially with some cool services such as Azure Cosmos.

GCP (Google Cloud Platform) are the leaders for AI and machine learning. Their business is learning about you, data is their bag and has been for a long time, so if you’re looking to consume some BigQuery or Google AI – then this suits.

Step 5: Migrate!

When you’ve made you’re decision on platform, use vSphere HCX to move your on-prem workloads up there and you’re good to go. Kill off your old on-prem stuff and start innovating for your business.

Psssssst, hey you, VMware Cloud user – what does this mean for me?

Now you see, this is where the GCVE (Google Cloud VMware Engine) announcement gets a bit interesting. So, say your business goes in a different direction, and you don’t want to use Azure or AWS anymore?

Use HCX, and migrate your workloads to another cloud provider. Simple.

This is what I like about VMware – options. Yes, the critical amongst us will say that you’re not locked into a cloud provider, but you’re locked into vSphere. Yeah – you’re right – but they will run on just about anything, so who cares.

1 Comment

  1. Ian Marshall

    An interesting view, I would say after many years of being a strong AWS supported, If I was asked which cloud to adopt, it would have to be Azure now that VMC is available.

    AWS is the mature cloud platform as it was first on the scene and others had to play catch up. It now offers oodles of services alongside VMC, most of which for a general business are not required.

    Azure, on the other hand, offers cost saving for Windows based systems and with O365 and VMC.

    Google is still playing catch up as they improve the services offered quite slowly and will always be in third place.

    VMC has made the difference to allow all businesses to adopt cloud strategy and continue with VMware, with the knowledge they can now use VMC across any the top three cloud providers.

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